Please allow me space in your widely read newspaper to write on Vision 2016 as an attainable dream and to prove those who sit on the pessimistic side on its attainability wrong.
We all know that the president’s vision for the country to become self-sufficient in rice by 2016 has attracted endless debate. So far, the optimists are dominating. Not only because most people believe that it’s an ambitious vision that has well-articulated and implementable plans, but also the political will. There seems to be more clear justifications to be on the side of these optimists. Just recently, President Jammeh returned from a tour of Vision 2016 rice fields in the Central River Region where large-scale production has started in earnest. But it is also worth saying that other regions in the country have also moved to put in their own contribution towards its attainment.
Since its declaration, many a patriotic Gambian has convincingly emphasised the fact that the vision is as a result of a wider campaign to end dependence on foreign food. Others have worked out its real significance, arguing it would re-energise our collective efforts for greater national development and independence. To optimists like me, whatever the case, it is a well-meant idea and achievable. It is a national empowerment strategy and a transformation agenda that requires the active and broad participation of the entire citizenry. It is not only to be self-sufficient in rice alone as some might be tempted to suggest but other food commodities as well. Expectations are high and palpable.
But even as the country sets itself on course towards the attainment of Vision 2016, it must not lose sight with of the fact that there would be challenges. One of the biggest is those who think it’s not achievable. These are the very people who are bent on killing the idea for whatever reason. They have resigned in the notion that it’s wishful thinking. However, this must not stop the Vision 2016 optimist and hopeful doing what he could best both in terms of ideas and efforts to put the country on a good pedestal.
And with the fact on the ground, certainly, it’s agreeable that beyond the usual crowded committees, expensive conferences and workshops, where beautiful speeches are made by these pessimists, those in charge of this vision have rather shown serious strategic and tactical plans that are rigorous for its attainment.
Re: US envoy calls for end to ‘back way’
I am writing in response to a recent article published on your newspaper where the new United States envoy, George Staples charged Gambian youths to join the campaign to end the ‘back way’ menace in the country. I found that article to be deeply touching as it goes on to provide a blow-by-blow account of the sad but true realities of illegal migration. He said: “There is no denying the allure of the back way, the possibilities that life in Europe could afford. But, I appeal to you to take a different route, and in some ways a more difficult one. I urge you to stay. Your people need you. Your country is counting on you. Remain in The Gambia and commit yourself to your education. I encourage you to band together with your peers to contribute to the development of your homeland. With your collective action, there is no limit to the promise of this country.” I find these lines to be well-thought out, educating, instructive and full of wisdom. If one considers the negative impact which the ‘back way’ has had on families, one could also only imagine its untold truth. He went on to add: “Those who have left are your brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. They could have been your future leaders, your future doctors, teachers and lawyers. The truth is The Gambia is losing its best and brightest to the ‘back way’. Part of the reason for this is that a huge information gap exists about this sort of migration. The young people of The Gambia may understand that what they are undertaking is somewhat risky, but they do not comprehend the full extent of the danger. The cost alone for this journey is staggering. Some Gambians are paying up to D100,000 to embark on this voyage. Such a monumental amount of money wasted for the over 700 Gambian migrants this year who have failed to reach Europe, returning back to their home country dejected and even poorer than they were before. The ‘back way’ is the ultimate gamble with the highest price unfortunately being life.” This argument is based not on an assumption of a kind but it is the truth that many Gambians are now contending with. It provides a new narrative for the muscle upon which the country’s development depends – the youths. Part of the phenomenon’s long-term impact which is there for everybody to see. This is why all hands must be on deck to end the ‘back way’ menace. The government in particular should act now!